Today we visited the Pecos National Historic Park, which is about 25 miles east of Santa Fe. We got there about 9:45 this morning in anticipation of going on a scheduled Ranger guided tour at 10 AM. I flashed my Golden Age Pass in the Visitors’ Center and we went into a small theater to watch a short video on the area. Unfortunately, due to short-staffing the Ranger tour was canceled so we took the 1-¼ mile “self-guided” tour.
The Pecos National Historical Park lies in a valley of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The Pecos River and Glorietta Creek meander through the valley, which made it an ideal place for the Pecos Pueblans to grow their corn, beans, and squash.
It was a beautiful morning in the valley. The temperature was pleasant and humidity low. Fluffy white cumulus clouds were scattered across the blue sky. The surrounding woodlands of Piñon, Juniper, and Ponderosa Pines gave the air a pleasant smell.
The ruins of the Pecos Pueblo lie on top of a hill that dominated the valley and provided a complete 360 degrees of view that allowed the ancient inhabitants to see anyone approaching. The valley floor around the Pueblo had been cleared for planting and today is primarily grassland.
The first inhabitants of the valley were pre-Pueblo people who built pit houses (partially underground) in about 800 AD. It was another 300 years, about 1100 AD, before the first Pecos Pueblans began constructing their wood, rock, and mud buildings. For the next 200 years there were approximately two dozen villages (Pueblos) built in the valley.
At its zenith, the Pecos Pueblo was home to 2,000 people. It stood 4 and 5 stories tall in a rectangular shape. As with other Pueblos, there was a central plaza surrounded by the wood, rock, and mud buildings.
The Pecos Pueblans were natural traders. They traded and warred, but mostly traded, with the various Plains Indian tribes, especially the Apaches. Trading benefited both groups. The Apaches were nomadic and would come to the Pueblo to trade buffalo hides, flint, shells, and slaves captured from other tribes) for corn, beans, squash, pottery, turquoise, and textiles.
Although they traded with the Apaches, the Pecos Pueblans did not trust them and there was always the question of whether the Apaches were coming to trade or to make war. The Apaches were not allowed inside the Pueblo buildings. They were admitted to the central plaza for trading but were made to leave before dark and had to sleep outside. The Pecos Pueblans probably considered the Apache as "second-class citizens."
The Pecos Pueblans must have been excellent farmers because when Coronado and his Conquistadors arrived in 1541 he found storerooms containing at least a three-year supply of corn. Coronado, being the invading Spaniard that he was, took it all to feed his army. Once again, the Spaniards attempted to erase the Indian religion and force Catholicism upon them. The Spanish also required a portion of the crops to be tithed to the Church, just as was done in the Frijole Valley’s Tyuani Pueblo.
The Pecos Pueblans put up with the Spanish for about a hundred years. In 1680 the various Pueblo groups united to conduct a well-planned and well-timed revolt throughout the Spanish colonies in New Mexico. Churches were destroyed and many priests were killed. The Spanish retreated to the safety of Mexico, where they stayed for about 12 years before returning.
This time they seemed to have learned their lesson for they were a kinder, gentler, invader and got along better with the Pecos Pueblans. They even fought together against the frequent Comanche raids. Unfortunately, by the 1780s, disease, Comanche raids, and migration had reduced the Pecos Pueblan population to around 300 people.
To add further insult to injury, the Santa Fe Trail cut through the valley in 1821, causing more of the Pecos Pueblo people to leave. The last of the Pecos-Pueblans abandoned what was, by then, a decaying Pecos Pueblo in 1838 and moved 80 miles west to the Jemez Pueblo to live with their relatives.
We completed our tour about 11:30 AM and headed back towards Santa Fe. We stopped at Bobcat Bites for what is advertised around here as one of the best hamburgers you can find. The place was small and had a waiting list. After about 15 minutes we were rewarded with 2 seats at the counter. We each got a bacon-cheeseburger, which was just as advertised, one of the best I have ever had.
The RV service person that I had called yesterday finally called back as we were leaving Bobcat Bites. He came over to our coach later and checked the water pump then asked me how long it had been since I changed my water filter. He was talking about an in-line filter cartridge that filters the city water before it enters the RV’s plumbing system. I told him that I had changed it before we went to Mexico in January (they normally last a year or more). He unscrewed the canister and removed the filter cartridge. It was dark brown and very yucky looking! I should have replaced it when we returned from Mexico but, because I had been putting chlorine bleach in the water, I didn’t think it would need to be changed. Apparently I was wrong. The service guy screwed the canister back on, without the filter, and bingo! I had good water pressure inside the coach once again. It costs me $75 for the service call, which was cheaper than a new pump.